It’s sure safe to say that Blake Gopnik, like most art critics, doesn’t think the art market is a great way to measure the importance of an artists work. We’d actually agree with that assessment. The market is voting machine; critics are meant to be concerned with weighing the meaning of an artist’s work. So it was a bit of a surprise—and disappointment—to see Gopnik justifying On Kawara’s stature as an artist by adducing his auction records as evidence:
Of the thousands of canvases Kawara has painted so far, 165 have just gone on view in the soaring spaces of David Zwirner Gallery in New York. The gallery says the exhibition’s works aren’t for sale, but Kawara’s auction record stands at close to $2 million, such is the size of his reputation. And here’s what this million-dollar artist leaves us as the daily record of his presence on this earth: a canvas, meticulously hand-painted by Kawara himself, that simply bears the date it was painted.
What’s fascinating about On Kawara is his unwillingness to make his personality part of the story which may explain Gopnik’s getting forced into using market terms to explain the artist’s presence. After all, there’s not much more available to the public than the works themselves and the trail of auction tallies.
On Kawara at David Zwirner, a Million-Dollar Enigma (The Daily Beast)